Harare: A domineering performance with bat and ball saw Ireland thrash United Arab Emirates in a rain-curtailed 44-overs-a-side fixture and cruise through to the Super Sixes stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in style.
After losing the toss and being inserted under gloomy skies, Ireland's openers William Porterfield and Paul Stirling got off to a flying start that belied the conditions, adding 68 either side of a rain break in the opening Powerplay.
While Porterfield fell short of a hundred, sent back for 92 off 103 balls, Stirling smashed a rollicking 126 off 117. Their association had extended to 205 in the 35th over when Imran Haider finally got a breakthrough with Poreterfield’s wicket. Porterfield had struck two sixes and 10 fours in his knock.
Stirling got his hundred soon after, in 106 balls, and went on the attack. By the time he had a skyer caught off Mohammad Naveed, he had five sixes and 15 fours in a 117-ball effort.
Naveed robbed the innings of some momentum, with two more quick wickets. But a blistering 26-ball 50 not out from Kevin O’Brien, which included seven fours and a six pushed the Ireland total past 300.
UAE's reply never got going, Ghulam Shabber top-scoring with a turgid 19 as his side crawled to 91 all out in 29.3 overs. After Tim Murtagh and Barry McCarthy each claimed a wicket in their opening spells, Boyd Rankin wreaked havoc, claiming four wickets in 10 balls as he scythed through the middle order.
He finished with a career-best 4/15, his pace and bounce proving far too much for the opposition. Simi Singh also tweaked his way to a three-for, his first ODI wickets, as he mopped up the tail to good effect.
Ireland will progress to the Super Sixes with two points to their name. UAE face a nervy hour and a half, hoping the Netherlands don't beat West Indies.